DepthX, a mushroom-shaped machine, an underwater hydrobot that ‘thinks’ for itself, is being developed to search for life on one of Jupiter’s moons. DepthX is currently undergoing tests in one of the world’s deepest flooded cave systems -the El Zacaton cave complex in Mexico- to simulate penetrating the ice-covered sea that surrounds Jupiter’s moons Europa. The next version of the machine will be tested in Lake Vostok, a deep ice-covered lake in the Antarctic.
Scientists believe Europa’s ocean, which is warmed by gravitational forces, could be one of the best places in the Solar System to look for life. A craft sent to Europa would use nuclear power to melt through the 10km of ice that cover the moon’s ocean.
The mission, not likely to take place until 2019, will be one of the most complex ever attempted by the American space agency NASA.